Militaries around the world have faced sustainment challenges with their aircraft, generally stemming from issues related to age, maintenance, supply and support issues.
What GE has seen in the last few years is a concerted effort, particularly by the United States military, to upgrade and improve the number of aircraft available at any given time. Much like what the commercial aircraft industry experienced a decade ago with its portfolio renewal, the U.S. military is going through a thoughtful modernization program based on its needs. GE Aviation is at the center of this in many cases and is extremely well-positioned for continued growth.
That’s why by 2020, they will complete the transition of nearly 1,000 engineers from their commercial programs to their military programs. This has been a three-year process. GE Aviation has incredibly smart, well-trained, energetic engineers that have worked on their newest products, including our GEnx, CFM* LEAP, Passport and GE9X. As these programs continue to mature, their military portfolio offers new opportunities for their engineers to take their innovative learnings from the commercial side and apply them to military space.
These next-gen programs offer incredible growth for customer-funded development. This funding helps feed the need for engineers to come over from the commercial side of the business.
As you may know, GE Aviation recently competed and won the U.S. Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) campaign for their Engineering and Manufacturing Development Contract (EMD) with the T901 engine. They have powered the Army’s Black Hawk and Apache helicopters for the last 40 years with the dependable T700, racking up more than 100 million flight hours. The T901 carries over the benefits of the T700 engine’s single-spool core architecture and incorporates new technologies such as ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) and additive manufacturing to create new efficiencies, giving it 50 percent more power and 25 percent better fuel efficiency.
Teams in Lynn, Mass., and Cincinnati, Ohio, have already begun working to deliver the T901 to the Warfighter over the next four decades. This effort will continue to extend across their supply chain. GE was awarded a contract worth $517 million for the EMD phase. When you take a step back and look at the full lifecycle of the program, it’s estimated to be at least $20 billion dollars.
The ITEP win comes on the heels of another next-gen victory to power U.S. Air Force trainers. Last September, Boeing and Saab emerged as the winning team in the Air Force’s T-X advanced jet trainer contest. The T-X will replace a fleet of more than 400 Northrop T-38 trainers. The T-38, powered by the J85 engine, has been flying for 60 years. GE’s legacy of powering Air Force trainers continues with the T-X, which uses their F404 turbofan.
One of GE’s newest military engines is now transitioning into production to support a key aircraft and mission. In 2006, GE’s workhorse turboshaft—the T408—was selected to power the three-engine CH-53K King Stallion, the U.S. Marine Corps’ new heavy-lift helicopter. The T408 gives the CH-53K helicopter the power to carry a 27,000-pound external load over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in hot weather conditions, nearly triple the external load-carrying capacity of current aircraft.
In late 2017, the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded GE Aviation a $143 million Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract to build 22 T408 engines. They held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new T408 assembly line at their Lynn plant last December and will deliver their first engine to the Navy this summer.
These examples are just some of the recent wins that we are delivering for the Warfighter. The boxes that remain unchecked —applications they are on a mission to win – they believe they have superior products to offer.
These include the XA100 variable cycle engine for next-generation combat aircraft and the CF34-10 or Passport engine for the B-52 re-engining effort.
The XA100 engine is sized for the F-35. If the Air Force decides to move forward with a block upgrade for the F-35 propulsion system, they have an engine that will bring a tremendous amount of incremental capacity to the airplane in terms of thrust, improved fuel consumption and heat capacity.
Last July, GE was awarded a $437 million contract modification from the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) to execute next-generation adaptive propulsion risk reduction for potential air superiority applications. In February, they completed a detailed design review under the U.S. Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP). This effort paved the way for fabricating and testing multiple full-sized adaptive cycle engines, potentially to apply to air superiority applications the Air Force is targeting.